The Impact of the Conflict and Proposed Solutions

Guillermo Arias/AP
Army soldiers stand guard by US citizen Eduardo Morquecho, aka "El Lalo," as he is shown to the
press, along with items seized from him during his arrest in Tijuana, Mexico, July 10, 2009.

The Mexican Drug War

For decades, Mexican police and public officials, enticed by bribes or simply intimidated by cartels, ignored the country’s illegal drug trade. After Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon publicly declared war on drugs, a wave of grisly murders, kidnappings and shootouts followed.

President Calderon has seen some success, capturing several cartel bosses, and breaking up various alliances, but his success comes at a price. A greater number of people have died in Mexico’s drug war than have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the toll continues to rise.

In addition to smuggling marijuana and methamphetamine, Mexico is now responsible for 90 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the U.S.

Origins of the Mexican Drug Conflict

In the mid-1980s, the South Florida Drug Task Force frightened off Colombia’s major Drug ... read more »

The Drug Conflict Today

President Calderon now has 40,000 soldiers fighting the war on drugs, but kidnappings, beheadings, ... read more »

The Impact of the Conflict and Proposed Solutions

In 2007, President George W. Bush and President Felipe Calderon signed the Merida Initiative, in which America promised to spend $1.5 billion to support the war on drugs over a three-year period. The project was criticized for not doing enough to bring about real change, especially to Mexico’s police force.

In recent months, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that America’s demand for illicit drugs and our inability to enforce tighter gun control make us partially responsible for Mexico’s current situation. The Obama administration has pledged support in Mexico's drug war.

Top Sites for the Future of the Mexican Drug Conflict

The Council on Foreign Relations Latin America Task Force reported that a year after the Merida Initiative was signed 41 percent of its funding was spent on air surveillance. The CFR believes more “technical and financial assistance” should have been granted to Mexico’s underpaid police force.

FindingDulcinea reported that three former presidents of Latin American countries wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal demanding international leaders develop a more humane approach to fighting the illegal drug trade. “The war on drugs has failed,” they said. The leaders suggested the legalization of marijuana as a possible reform.

The Brookings Institute offers a report on lessons from Colombia’s drug war, looking at three areas of policy change: cutting drug consumption, re-routing the drug trade and reducing crime. According to the report, criminals in Mexico don’t fear law enforcement because the government is inundated with problems. As a result, “social and cultural restraints on violence have been degraded.”

NPR reported that at a meeting in Mexico, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed America’s “insatiable demand for illegal drugs” and lax gun control policies for feeding the war there. NPR’s interactive map illustrates the presence of drug cartels in 230 U.S cities. View them by state.
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